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Photography Grad Schools in U.S.?

Hi all,

I know this subjects has probably been covered but after a breif search I couldn’t find exactly what I’m looking for.

Does anyone have a recommendation for Photography Graduate Schools (either Photojournalism or Fine Art) in the USA?  Maybe a top 10 list?

Thank you in advance!


Jason Sangster

by Jason Sangster at 2006-03-23 20:26:40 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Lhasa , China | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Brooks Institute of Photography

Savannah College of Art and Design

Parsons School of Design

Also, PDN EDU is a great source when looking for schools


Peter Hodge

by Peter Hodge | 23 Mar 2006 20:03 (ed. Mar 23 2006) | Tulsa, United States | | Report spam→
Ohio University
School of Visual Arts
Western Kentucky

by Nathan Daniel Pier | 23 Mar 2006 22:03 | Wisconsin, United States | | Report spam→
Last I checked Western Kentucky doesn’t do grad school. Personally I’m a little biased towards Ohio University.

by Noah Devereaux | 23 Mar 2006 23:03 | Seattle, United States | | Report spam→
1.  Yale
2. University of New Mexico
3. Art Institute of Chicago

by david bram | 23 Mar 2006 23:03 | New Mexico, United States | | Report spam→
I’m an Undergrad Brooks Student, a lot of my teachers got their grad degrees here. I know the program goes by trimesters, classes are mostly on the weekends and their pretty lax about when to turn in the thesis. I know the real plus side is if you get a teching position (or any full time job here) you get 90% off tuition :) Personally I’m looking at Mizzou and UC Berkley for grad school. Hope that helps

by franco | 23 Mar 2006 23:03 | Southern CA, United States | | Report spam→
Last year, the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne asked a wide range (can’t remember the number) of schools to submit work by students in their programs or having graduated in recent years. The resulting choice of 50 photographers is a book, and a show that went up in Lausanne and in Milano and is going up in New York next month. Two lightstalkers (Christoph Bangert and myself) are in it, and it might be a way to get pointers on where to look. Then again, things like this only represent the intersection of a process and of the taste, or opinions, of the curators that put it together.

list of the photographers and schools they went to.

by [former member] | 24 Mar 2006 00:03 | paris, France | | Report spam→
Noah, I guess you are right… no grad at Western Kentucky, I wonder why not at a time where a lot of people are running back to hide out in school. Seems like they are missing out on some potential income.

by Nathan Daniel Pier | 24 Mar 2006 05:03 | Wisconsin, United States | | Report spam→
to add some whimsy to this particular conversation: following up on Matthias: the folllowing photographers attended THE SAME GRAD SCHOOL and obtained, remarkably, their mfa (masters of fine apprehension)…in no particular order: bresson, Frank, Giacometti: Bresson: Arbus: Winogrand: Moriyama: Araki:  ackerman: eisenstadt, nachtwey: capa brothers: abbott, ,brady, brandt, brassai, minor white: atget, towell: strand, meatyard: eugene smith, walker evans, koudelka, majoli, hine, ray, rodenchenko, michaels, davidson, burri, weegee, hosoe, uimonen, arnold, goldberg, avedon, pinkhassov, kratochvil, knight, haviv, siskind (although he taught at risd), riis,pen,callahan, boulat….and my son :))))))))))……….

 (honestly) am wondering if grad schools (including yale, brooks, parson’s, chicago, new mexico) do anything but fill their coffers and provide an easy and quick inroad into gallery life??….

what, honestly, is the purpose of grad school other than to dish out mfa’s: i’ve never understood its relevance to photography, what so ever….why do you want to go to grad school?

By the way, I am not judging you Jason, nor judging Mathias (i am familiar with the work and the exhibition he refers to), but I find it distressing (profoundly) that young photographers (hell, its not only about photography) consider schools as a concern instead of the work, or life. I’ll be honest with you. If your concerned about a "career’: absolutely get into Yale or Brooks or Chicago….or take a course at ICP (better I think than an MFA). If you are, however, interested in a deeper resonating understanding, you should know that grad school will not make you a better or more interesting (interested) photographer. New York is filled with yale, parson, icp grads and the schools are filled with mfa-tooled, galler’d-loaded instructors, some of whom are wonderful, some of whom couldnt give a rat’s u know what.

In the west, we’ve drunken down an interesting poison: what is the least important value has become the most significant social barometer of entry. Education, (not as the greeks understood as a tool to realize the unrealizable,) as a means toward social arrangements. Learning more to understand less…..;))))

good luck and I wish you success jason. :)


by [former member] | 24 Mar 2006 06:03 (ed. Mar 24 2006) | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
Now, now, Bob, a Diploma looks great on a wall and as a reference on your C.V. (not to mention college parties, beer bellies at 22, Frats; it gets you out of the house on a legit and expensive mission, babes -or otherwise, let’s be PC- etc, etc… and heck! you may be able to snap one or two pictures in the process)   :-)

Carry on, Jason, you only live once…  LOL!


by Luis E. Andrade | 24 Mar 2006 09:03 | Philadelphia Metro Area, United States | | Report spam→
hey luis! :)))))…im not knocking college (some of the best years of my life ;))) ): only grad schools, espcially for fine arts!!! :))))….if only grad students spent more time "out of the house" ;)))))….anyway, to show jason Im not some old fuck against schools, here’s a run down of what I think (only me ;))) ) are the best "grad" programs in photography:

1. Yale
2. School of Art Institute Chicago
4. University of New Mexico
5. RIT (Rochester)
6. Cal Arts…

o, I forgot Savannah Art Insititute…i dont know its quality, but ive met people from there (and the town is gorgeous)…and I think there is a LS member here who is one of their teachers :)))))))))……

No particular oder of  "quality"…because they are ALL GREAT schools…and I, personally, have an an "affliation" with at least one of them ;)))))) (wont dislose which, unless Im drunk)….

I agree with Luis, Jason: you only live once! :)))))))))…think of what you can do in china with the price of a year at yale, rit or risd ;))))))))

have fun



by [former member] | 24 Mar 2006 09:03 (ed. Mar 24 2006) | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→

antonin : gerrit rietveld, amsterdam

alex boulat : ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, paris

rodchenko : school of applied arts, moscow after a 4-year program in kazan

frank : school of commercial art, zurich

giacometti : school of fine arts, geneva

not the grad programs, of course (my understanding is that the concept of MFA is a 1970’s kinda thing and probably didn’t exist at the time that a lot of those people were studying, not that i’m saying they would’ve done one, mind you), but not exactly "school of the street" either – there’s probably a lot of others in the bunch you quoted who had some kind of formal education in photography, took those i was pretty sure had gone through one and did a quick check. and i do agree with you that in some cases, grad schools are precisely the place where not to be.

by [former member] | 24 Mar 2006 10:03 | paris, France | | Report spam→
Matthias: :)))… you’re right about all the above :)))…i was suggesting giacometti, frank, rodchenko, boulat etc as example antithetical to "grad" programs…I absolutely do not condemn the decision to go to graduate school for photography…and absolutely i do not condemn going to school for fine arts (photography, painting, sculpture, music, etc). I WAS NOT condeming formal photographic training (in a college, university, tradeschool, military or otherwise), I was only poking fun at "grad school" programs as means of "learning…"

Instead, I was hoping to suggest an alternative discussion. In other words, the normal routine here in the North America is this: go to college and then immediately (or after 1/2 years) go to graduate school for MFA. I agree in "formal education" for all things (hell, im a teacher myself), but what i do not like is the "idea" that graduate school is understood, a priori, as a way of becoming a photographer. I totally agree with your point of view and can, absolutely, make a long list of photographers I respect and admire who, in fact, did go to graduate school for MFA…..hell, one of my painting hero’s (Richard Diebenkorn) did the same after wwii…and I was not condemning grad programs out of hand (that’s why i offered jason my own list). :)))))

What i was trying to elicit was something else: the rationale behind the decision, hoping that Jason would be given alot of advice about  educational choices. To wit: d’agata, who was largely self-taught, spent time at icp, and many of the young (under 40) photographers I respect also attend/attended grad schools…

I was only suggesting that grad school is not the only way to pursue a career as a photojournalist or photographer :))))))….but any decision an individual photographer makes is, in the end, the one that is most important and "educational" for them :))))) I hope that’s whay I conveyed…

as for giacometti, i meant giacomelli (photographer, not the sculptor): my typo (and I always fuck that up when typing ;))))))) )…

cheers Matthias, :))

by [former member] | 24 Mar 2006 10:03 (ed. Mar 24 2006) | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
Check into columbia college chicago http://www.colum.edu

by doug mcgoldrick | 24 Mar 2006 13:03 | chicago, United States | | Report spam→
wow!  what a discussion!  and i thought i wouldn’t even get a reply….

first and most importantly, thank you for your input and lists.  i really appreciate your advice, suggestions and opinions.

i guess i should explain a little where the hell i’m coming from to even suggest tainting myself with a mfa.  :)  well, i graduated not 1/2 year ago but 6 years ago and for the last 5 1/2 years i was a photo editor for an international ngo, which i found to be sometimes interesting, sometimes boring, but steady and a huge spring board for my development (i was sent to the field about 3 times year to photograph our projects, etc – 15 countries in 5 years, not bad on the cv).  anyway, the time came when i had reached a development glass ceiling, both professionally and creatively.  so i left for asia with my wife (who’s doing a phd) and am trying my hand at freelance for a while.  let’s just say it is hard!  i tried to align myself with an agency but they wanted me to chase ambulance basically and i do not want to do hard news, wars, conflicts, riots, demonstrations, etc.  i have never been nor ever want to be a hard news photographer/journalist.  not that there is anything wrong with it, it’s just not me and not my vision.  so after they ‘suggested’ i go shoot the demonstrations and virtual riots taking place nearby, i politely declined as a ‘consionable objector’ so to speak.  they then told me i wasn’t ‘viable’ to them and wished me well.  

so now i am just thinking about options for my future.  having basically shot myself in the foot by being morally opposed to news photography, i am continue to try find my path.  with the plans of kids and raising a family in the near future and wanting to be around more often than not, i have begun to consider more stable employment oppurtunities such as getting back to photo editing or becoming a photography teacher myself.  it was after all my high school photo teacher who changed my life forever!

i agree with some of the sentiments here.  i do not believe grad schools would make me a better photographer necessarily.  experience and talent are more factors there.  but i must also agree that the u.s. system has obvious bias to those who do ‘time’ at them.  so to be more competitive, it seems that one must play the game rather one agrees with it or not.  of course, i am not willing to play the ‘news photographer’ game, so therefore i am not going to be competitive in that field.  

just exploring options here.  not trying to taint myself or put grad schools on a high pedestal either.  i think like most things in life, they are what you put in.  

i hope this helps in understanding why i ask.  i welcome further comments on this subject and my future options.  thanks again, everyone!  


by Jason Sangster | 27 Mar 2006 23:03 | Lhasa, China | | Report spam→
What about someone in their late 40’s going back and getting a masters, maybe with the intention of maybe teaching down the road? I’m considering it, as I think I might have a lot to offer as a teacher, and to pay back the man who got me started in photojournalism.

by James E. Taylor | 21 Jun 2006 05:06 | Northwoods of Wisconsin, United States | | Report spam→
What about someone in their late 40’s going back and getting a masters, maybe with the intention of maybe teaching down the road? I’m considering it, as I think I might have a lot to offer as a teacher, and to pay back the man who got me started in photojournalism.

by James E. Taylor | 21 Jun 2006 05:06 | Northwoods of Wisconsin, United States | | Report spam→

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Jason Sangster, Jason Sangster
[undisclosed location].
Peter Hodge, Student / Photographer Peter Hodge
Student / Photographer
Tulsa , United States
Nathan Daniel Pier, Photographer/Digital Tech Nathan Daniel Pier
Photographer/Digital Tech
(Recovering Newspaper Photog)
Green Bay, Wi , United States ( GRB )
Noah Devereaux, Freelance Photographer Noah Devereaux
Freelance Photographer
Washington Dc , United States
david bram, Photographer david bram
New Mexico , United States
franco, Success in Progress franco
Success in Progress
Southern Ca , United States
Luis E. Andrade, I shoot and I write Luis E. Andrade
I shoot and I write
Philly Metro Area, Jersey Side , United States
doug mcgoldrick, photographer doug mcgoldrick
Chicago , United States
James E. Taylor, Photojournalist James E. Taylor
(Sports Editor/Photographer)
Northwoods Of Wisconsin , United States


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